Imagine a professional bicycle team.
All very experience cyclists, that have won many times.
The last years they have been losing more and more because this team is still driving older bikes. Most people in the team love their bike. After so many years they really know the good and bad parts of their bike. Although they weight more, the drivers are now doing power training, and the teams explositivity has doubled the last 10 years.
More and more people said they should change bikes, even a few people in the team have a different bike at home. Although most of them love it, some feel it’s not robust enough to be a professional bike.
Usually the day before a new tour, their sponsor makes a big speech and brings their customer made t-shirts. This year the day before the tour the France, their sponsor even made a bigger event. They brought a total new set of bikes.
These new bike are great, they are much more aerodynamic, they have a new kind of suspension and the steering wheel has some power steering. The teams tries the bikes for the first time in front of the cameras on the parking of their hotel. One of them falls of his bike, they all have a good laugh and they blame the champagne. Yet in reality these bike really demand another way to drive: they are so much more sensitive, so the cyclists are oversteering when they are going into bends. On top of that, because of the new suspension they have a different feeling on the cobblestones. All in all they have to sit different on the bicycle to use it to it’s fullest.
Now you have a team of 28 cyclist that will learn how to drive a new bicycle, all while running a race. (Against other teams that also drive this new bike, only they have been learning this for months before.) They are not the last to switch, some of their competitors are still driving old bikes, and to the people who are against the switch, it feels that these teams are more productive as they have won already a few jerseys.
That is how an agile transformation feels to most people inside companies.
Luckily the sponsors brought some bike doctors along to help give advice on how to use the bikes. These people are among the best around the world, the bikers feel frustrated because they have the feeling that these doctors tell them to do things that their own bodies gives them the opposite message.
A few sideline stories that sometimes happen with agile transformations euh I mean bike switches.
The timerider is frustrated because the sponsor listen to the mechanics to buy all the same bicycles which was easier to maintain the bikes. Yet for timeriding it would have been better to buy at least a few time riding bikes.
A big thank you to my friend and colleague GertJan who inspired this metaphor and who’s e-mail conversation made this a lot better.
Another Thank you for Olivier Puffet who was the direct trigger.
Do you like this metaphor?
What could make it better?